It's no secret that due to COVID-19, this Summer looks vastly different than in previous years. When I came home mid-March for spring break, I didn't know I'd be staying in New Jersey through July! I haven't had this much consecutive time in my home state since I was in high school and I'm definitely enjoying all the extra time spent with my friends and family. Any bit that I see them has been a bonus but we have been relatively "good" about refraining from exposure if one of us has gone somewhere or is about to see high-risk people. When cases were on the decline we took advantage of seeing each other, but the recent spike in cases, to put it simply, led to me spending Fourth of July weekend solo, which gave a new meaning to Independence Day.
Being fortunate enough to live at the Jersey Shore, I knew that the one thing I wanted to do was go to the beach. But there was one problem: I'd never been to the beach alone. I absolutely love being alone in general, but the beach alone? I was uneasy about it. I felt like a kid the night before they go to a new school. And I can't even make friends because of COVID. I thought I'd write this in case anyone else is contemplating beaching alone (you should absolutely do it you'll learn to love it), or if you have, I hope you can relate to these observations.
1. Parking alone is difficult
Usually I have a co-pilot to help me cruise for free parking. I almost gave up and went to a lot but they wanted $40 and I don't know who can afford that but it's definitely not me.
2. There's no one to help carry the stuff
I don't know about you, but I pack for the beach to last a long time there. I live close to the beach but not close enough to go back and forth. I might have two books, I have three types of sunscreen, tanning oil, three water bottles, snacks, and a towel. I count on that someone carries the beach bag, someone carries the chair's dynamic. Instead, I loaded myself up like a pack mule.
3. I don't know where to sit
This goes back to that kid-school thing. I need to find the people who look like they will judge me the least for being here by myself. Also since I know I will be making zero noise, I want to be by people who don't think they are a cousin of Pitbull and want to turn the beach into their personal Miami nightclub, which some people think they are achieving through blaring dubstep out of a tinny phone speaker (not mad just disappointed).
4. There's no one to put sunscreen on my back
And that's how I gave the beach all but a full contortionist routine of me trying to reach my middle back.
5. I'm a little scared to swim alone
The first day I went, leading up to the Fourth of July weekend, I was scared to go swimming. Not because I always am, but because I realized that if I never came out no one would know. I eventually got over this and went swimming alone for like thirty minutes on the Fourth.
6. I have complete focus on people watching
Without my own conversations going on, I had a hyper-awareness of those around me. This had both good and bad facets, but let me tell you about some of the things I saw. Now I kind of wished I had someone with me because I had to text my friends about some of this instead of just turning to them, but my solidarity likely led me to see these things.
On the first day alone I saw a teenage couple who were PDA heavy alternating between making out and the girlfriend POPPING THIS BOY'S PIMPLES. And I mean popping them. She was on her knees, bent over him (don't worry this isn't dirty, just disgusting) and repeatedly popping his pimples, and then kissing him. This is something you shouldn't even do in the privacy of your own home let alone the beach! And it went on for a while. I was flabbergasted, to put it kindly. I also wound up overhearing a profane conversation (cause it was yelled in full voice) where a woman ripped to shreds the woman her husband cheated with while her 92-year-old practically deaf mother was home.
You're thinking, "Wow that's a lot of detail." Yep. It is and this continued for a while and man did this lady have an opinion on everything. She also thinks that you shouldn't wear fake eyelashes to the beach. I think her friends spoke two words during her tirades. It was amazing.
7. People here probably want to be me
I don't mean actually want to be me: I'm sure no one on this beach wishes that their uncle passed away this year, their internship got canceled, their job prospect is bartending, they have no personal life, and their senior year of college is likely about to be a disaster of unknown proportions. By "be me" I mean be alone. I actually saw parents move a lone beach chair away from their family and the mom and dad took turns sitting there. It made me think that many people on this beach might be hoping their companion goes into the ocean and swims all the way to England and stays there.
8. A lot of the experience rides on who sits next you
This somewhat always applies, but when you're with a group, you're so self-involved it matters less. The people who come and sit by me have the ability to make or break my experience. Or force me to move. So far, I've gotten very lucky. When an older couple sat down next to me I knew I hit the lottery, I could practically see the smoke coming off their bodies as they seethed in silence, playing on their respective phones. Isn't marriage wonderful?
9. I loved being on my own schedule
I decided when to go in the ocean, when to read, when to eat, when to put on more sunscreen.
10. No one told me if I was getting sunburnt
Ahhh, a day without hearing someone nag me or poke my skin. Pure bliss and P.S., I didn't get burned cause without being distracted by friends and family I had more time to focus on my sunscreen.
11. I'd still choose going with people
In reality, I missed all my family members and friends and wished they were there. A group of girls drinking White Claws sat next to me at one point and I almost started crying. I also missed playing with my little cousins. The beach solo is fantastic every once in a while, but I'd take people over it any day!